Budapest is a stunning city, perfect for any student who likes to eat a great meal out or meet up for a drink with friends for barely any money.
I took the train over from Graz to see an American friend who is studying at university there now. Until the evening before I left I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Even though the train ride does not even take six hours, I had not heard a lot about Budapest prior to visiting the town. I loved its little shops and ruin bars (like Szimpla Kert, displayed in the picture), the many intricately designed churches and buildings and the stories of Hungary’s history.
MATHIAS CHURCH, BUDA
I marvelled at the intricate decorations all over Matthias Church. Not only is the roof covered in tiles of a special clay in all colors, but the church is located in the heart of Buda’s Castle District. This means that from the church tower you have a wonderful view over both Buda and Pest, the second half of Hungary’s capital.
While you do have to pay to enter the church, I highly recommend doing so. The murals are unlike any I have seen before – in a church or in a palace. They suggest something modern and something ancient all at once.
Right behind the church you will find Fisherman’s Bastion, which might very well be the most picturesque point in all of Budapest.
Buda Castle was never officially the residence of the Habsburgs, seeing as they governed their Empire from Vienna. Still, they build a great palace atop one of the hills in Buda, looking over the Danube river – a demonstration of their wealth.
Today you can find museums, the national library as well as the gallery inside.
GREAT MARKET HALL
On Friday, I had lunch in the Great Market Hall. Technically, at 11:30 it was still a little early for lunch, but the traditional dishes offered on the second floor of the Hall simply smelled too delicious. Apart from the fresh food, fruit and vegetables, you can also get classy souvenirs in the Market Hall. They have the paprika powder and Pálinka (a spirit) Hungary is known for, amongst other things.
Even more than 70 years later you can still see marks that remind of the horrors these people have seen during World War II, like so many others all over Europe and the world: Jewish people were thrown into the Danube and left to drown, but only after having removed there shoes – very valuable at the time.
Communism and Soviet rule have left a very visible mark on Hungary’s capital as well. There are many memorials and buildings that remind of the hardships of those times, the bullet holes in the fassade of a building right next to the Parliament are still very visible. The only logo in which the red star is allowed to be displayed today is Heineken’s.
The monument below impressed me most. It portrays Imre Nagy, a Hungarian communist politician.
During and after the failed 1956 revolution, he attempted to lead the Hungarian people towards democracy and a multi-party system, which is why he is looking towards the Hungarian Parliament building. He wanted to differentiate Hungary from the USSR. Two years after the revolution he was executed.
Hungarians love superstitious statues, and the trick with this one is to cross the bridge from the left to the right – towards the Parliament and towards the future – to have good luck.